Wisnewski (At-large) wants teen service restored, larger senior center and new master plan implemented
GREENFIELD — Town Council President Mark Wisnewski, who is running for re-election this year, says implementing the town’s new sustainable master plan, restoring teen services and finding a bigger space for seniors are three of the most important issues facing the town over the next three years.
Wisnewski, 49, of Montague City Road, said after serving the council previously as Precinct 5 councilor and for the past three years as an at-large councilor, he has developed the skills and has the experience needed to take the town forward.
“I am thoughtful and considerate and my leadership as president of the Council over the past year has brought people together,” said Wisnewski. “I, for instance, helped bring about a compromise on the recent rewrite of the town’s wetlands ordinance.”
Wisnewski said his military training has helped.
“I think I bring a sense of direction to the town and I understand the business community, because I own a 7-year-old business in Turners Falls.”
Wisnewski said he was motivated to run again because he cares about the town and the people who live there.
“I’m very excited about implementing the new master plan,” he said. “I am the only current councilor who sat on the committee that created it. It is a document that has and will continue to bring the entire town together.”
Wisnewski said continuing as an at-large councilor he would make sure to keep the momentum going for the new plan.
“It will be my job to capitalize on the enthusiasm,” he said. “The Council won’t be involved in most of the projects until the very end, but we can encourage others to move forward with them and then we can vote positively on anything that does come to us.”
Wisnewski said the town needs to reopen its youth center, because that is where the war on the opioid problem is going to begin.
“It’s not a police issue,” he said. “It’s a preventative and education issue. It’s an issue that starts with our teens. We need to have things for them to do besides use drugs.”
He said he’d also like to see the town find a new facility for its senior center. He said in that instance it could be in a building that already exists or it could be built.
“Our aging population is one of the biggest and we have to give them a place to go,” said Wisnewski.
He said he supports both a dog and skate park.
“I’m thrilled that the town is looking at Green River Park as home to a dog park,” he said. “Now we have to start looking for a home for a skate park.”
Wisnewski said he wouldn’t call himself pro- or anti-growth. He said he wants to see businesses that pay well come to Greenfield.
“If we create those types of jobs, we attract other jobs,” he said. “When you pay people well, they hire carpenters and groundskeepers and use banks and shop in our downtown stores.”
He said he supported the town giving Kennametal a tax break to encourage it to expand in Greenfield.
“I would like to see companies and businesses build where there are already existing structures before building where there aren’t,” he said.
Wisnewski said he will admit that he is a Democrat and his opponent is a Republican, but does not believe party affiliation should play a role in local politics.
“My party affiliation means something,” he said. “It’s part of what I believe, so why should I be ashamed for people to know?”
But, Wisnewski said, he doesn’t want town elections to be about a “D” or “R.”
“I’m glad we don’t have partisan election, but I’m not a nonpartisan person,” he said.
Wisnewski said he thinks the town is doing a good job funding its departments, but will continue as a councilor to keep an eye on the annual budget.
“We’ve had balanced budgets that are well thought out,” he said. “All departments could use a little more, but we have to work with what we have.”
Wisnewski said he would continue to listen to the concerns of department heads as he considers the town’s budget each year.
He said that even though some in town have complained and accused the current council of trying to block development by passing or even considering ordinances such as the wetlands, Native American burial ground, noise and plastic bag ban ordinances, he believes they were brought forward to improve the town, not block anything.
Wisnewski said he would like to see mayoral appointments and reappointments made according to background, education and ability, not ideology.
“The Council should only reject people who don’t meet those criteria,” he said. “It takes a supermajority to reject an appointee or re-appointee, so I think it’s reasonable if that many say “no” to someone.”
Wisnewski said people should look at the service he has provided the town to date to see that he is the best candidate for the job.
“I’m reasonable and listen to all sides,” he said. “People sometimes confuse listening with people not agreeing.”
He said when he makes a decision, it is based on listening to all sides, assembling all of the information he can get his hands on and doing his homework.
“I don’t make a decision, any decision, lightly,” he said. “I look at everything. I guess if 99 percent of my constituents wanted me to vote a certain way, though, they could probably convince me, even if the evidence was to the contrary.”
Wisnewski is married and has two children. His wife Francia currently serves on the School Committee.